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Devils look forward after ending shootout drought

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- The huge sigh of relief coming from New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer was palpable as he stepped to the podium at his postgame press conference to discuss a rare shootout victory.

When asked if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders, DeBoer smiled.

"I think that's an understatement," he said.

Jacob Josefson made it possible when he scored on his second-round attempt for what proved to be the only goal of the tiebreaker in a 2-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets at Prudential Center on Thursday. The win snapped an NHL-record 18-game losing streak in the shootout for the Devils; their last shootout victory came March 10, 2013, also against Winnipeg.

"I was confident this group would be able to win in shootouts," DeBoer said. "I was confident we would score more. You're always trying to instill confidence in your group and I think the guys felt this was a new year and we would be able to end it. We did and now we could move forward."

Goaltender Cory Schneider made 24 saves in regulation and overtime and then stopped Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little in the shootout. He knows the Devils can't be satisfied with one win in the tiebreaker; there will likely be more opportunities and the points will be crucial.

The Devils lost their other shootout this season, 3-2 against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 24. In that tiebreaker Jaromir Jagr and Mike Cammalleri failed on their opportunities and Schneider allowed goals by Dallas' Jason Spezza and Jamie Benn.

"We can't just say we won one and everything's good now," Schneider said. "We've got to keep working at it and win more of these."

The Devils were 0-13 in shootouts last season, and scored just four times on 45 attempts. Josefson scored on his only attempt last season and is 2-for-4 in his career.

"It feels good to contribute in any way you can and it was nice to get a shootout win here," Josefson said. "These two points were big for us."

Forward Adam Henrique said players had been itching to get 2014-15 started after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. In addition to the team's lack of 5-on-5 scoring, the shootout woes didn't help.

"It seemed to be the Achilles of our team last season," Henrique said of shootouts. "I think it kept piling up every loss. On the bench you begin thinking that we have to win in overtime. If it wasn't the goalie getting hot or someone hitting the post it was something else and we just couldn't shake it."

Defenseman Adam Larsson, who played his second game of the season Thursday, said getting the shootout victory will help the team's confidence moving forward.

"It's nice, especially for [Josefson], who's been out for a few games too," Larsson said. "It's good for his confidence and good for our team to have a win in this situation."

Schneider, who faces Josefson daily during practice, knew his teammate had a few tricks up his sleeve.

"It's good to see him succeed in the shootout," Schneider said. "He's got good hands in tight and he's a dangerous shootout shooter, so I'm glad he came out there and came through."


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